Chasing Shadows / The Suspicions Of Mr Whicher

Two new ITV drama in one week? Not great news unfortunately.

Another week another police procedural on ITV. Or two. First up is Thursday’s newest entry to the “cop with a quirk” theme, Chasing Shadows. With a starry cast and heavily trailed over the last few weeks there were promising things ahead for the show.

Sadly almost from the very beginning the awful acting, hackneyed portrayal of a DI with some kind of “issue”, and formulaic but badly written story, all conspired to sink the show before it’s really got going. It’s a shame as despite ITV currently drowning in a sea of cop shows it’s lacking some real killer shows – Scott & Bailey which returns this week is the current lead runner on the creative and acting front. There is, after all, only so much of the interchangeable Sunday night detectives that you can stomach (Vera, Banks, Lewis, et al).

One thing the show looked to have right was the cast, Reece Shearsmith is an excellent actor as ably demonstrated in his brilliant wardrobe of characters in Inside No. 9 and as the weirdly transfixing Malcolm Webster in The Widower. In this though his performance is too wooden and affected to really ring true and is too close to his recent turn as Webster. ER and Doctor Who alum Alex Kingston doesn’t fare much better, while the criminally wasted Noel Clarke is the best of the bunch but hampered by stereotypical angry cop dialogue. Honestly it’s just not very good.

Much better, but still only a little bit better than average was the return of The Suspicions Of Mr Whicher on Sunday nights. Having used up the one book (by Kate Summerscale) that was available in the Christmas one-off in 2011 ITV have commissioned original stories for last years episode and this new set of two adventures. The 2013 story The Murder In Angel Lane was very slow going, and the first of these new stories is in a similar vein.

Paddy Considine’s former copper but now a kind of private eye is a dour fellow. Beyond The Pale was a tale of child kidnapping, deceit, and families that would have made for a mildly diverting hour but was stretching things at almost two hours. The writing and set design are both good, and the performances are restrained and reasonably on the money but there’s just no getting away from the fact that Considine’s central character is a bit of a goody two shoes, which sadly makes him quite dull. What the series lacks is a strong sense of personality to surround him, and we all know the best detectives come in pairs.

We can look forward to the return of one of those pairs this week with the previously mentioned creations of Sally Wainwright. After the critical and viewing success of Happy Valley you can expect Scott & Bailey to be a breath of fresh air to TV cop shows.


Updated: Sep 10, 2014

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